Are There Medications to Stop Addiction?

When talking about addiction of any kind, the most recurrent question arises about medications – whether there is any treatment that can help get over the addiction. Thankfully, the answer to the question is positive! Medication can speed up the recovery process and help the addict stay somber without much effort. Various medicines are being tried, tested, and used for effective treatment of substance abuse. Medical drug and alcohol detox team has noticed that many people are trying to sacrifice drugs or alcohol relapse and fall prey to withdrawal symptoms. There are a few medicines that can mimic the effects of certain drugs and soothe withdrawal symptoms.

Medications are prescribed as a part of a rehabilitation program. Doctors adjust the dosages as per the treatment for people to recover and become sober.

The detox period is when the body throws all the unwanted substances like drugs. During the detox period, the body goes through withdrawal symptoms which are difficult to get over. The rate of withdrawal depends on past drug use. People taking high doses suffer from some of the worst symptoms. The respondent may feel nauseated, anxious, depressed, and tensed when undergoing the coping mechanism.

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Let’s look at a few medications prescribed by doctors for drug addiction.

  • Benzodiazepines – The drug is best known to help addicts get free from anxiety and irritability. Since anxiety poses a common side effect of detox, benzos act as a sedative to ease those withdrawals. But doctors prescribe benzos in limits as they are severely addictive.
  • Antidepressants – An addicted person relies on drugs for happiness. They are not capable of producing chemicals that induce happiness naturally in their brain. Thus, they suffer from depression. Doctors prescribe antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac to keep them happy until the brain becomes capable of producing happiness-inducing chemicals again.
  • Clonidine – he drug is best known for treating alcohol and opiate withdrawals. It helps reduce effects like sweating, cramps, muscle pain, and anxiety attacks. It is also capable of stopping tremors and seizures.

Medications like benzodiazepines or valium can prove to be life-threatening. They are advised not to quit cold turkey. It is a method where the substance dependence of the addicted is stopped suddenly, compared to stopping addiction bit by bit using medicines. The situation is unpleasant for the addict as his skin appears like a cold turkey but is the most appropriate method.

Medication for Alcohol addiction

In their reports, The National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) mentioned that around 18 million people residing in America required treatment for alcohol abuse in 2013. Prolonged dependence on alcohol leads to what scientists call Post – Acute – Withdrawal – Symptoms (PAWS). Medication can go a long way to provide relief from PAWS. These medicines usually come in the form of tablets for them. Given below are some medicines that can ease alcohol withdrawals –

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol) – The medicine blocks brain receptors that produce effects filled with pleasure induced by alcohol. It also subsides the urge to indulge in alcohol. It is injected into the patient after every four weeks. It can help the patient achieve euphoria without succumbing to alcohol for pleasurable moments.
  • Acamprosate (Campral) – Alcohol causes physical and emotional stress. This medicine helps to get relief from these kinds of stress. It reduces the urge to drink alcohol and thereby reduces anxiety and depression. People can take this medicine after the whole detox process.
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse) – The first-ever medicine to get approved for alcoholism was disulfiram. Simultaneously drinking and taking disulfiram causes a person to vomit and feel nauseated. The whole idea of taking this medicine is to stop people from drinking while having it as it makes them ill. If the addict is supported thoroughly by his friends and family, disulfiram may give a very high success rate.

Medication for opiate and heroin addiction

Opiates consist of heroin, morphine, and some narcotics like oxycontin. In 2012, drug abuse was the leading cause of death in America, as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Medication helps in easing the craving and reduces symptoms of opiate withdrawal. While some people undergo withdrawal only for a week, some can go as long as months and years. Medication for the long term can cease PAWS and cravings. Some medicines which a person can take for opiate addiction are –

  • Methadone – This medicine is perfect for moderate to severe opium addiction. It works in the same way as heroin or painkillers but does not get the person to get high. That is another medicine which suppresses the need for opiate and treats withdrawals. Doctors are cautious, particularly while prescribing this. In many cases, people get addicted to methadone instead of the usual heroin or opium.
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone) – This medicine works in the same manner as methadone. But comparatively, it has low addiction potential. 
  • Naltrexone –Naltrexone works typically in the same way for alcohol and opiate addiction. It suppresses the urges caused due to withdrawal of alcohol or opium.
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Some people often opt for detoxing at home – that is not suitable. It is a tedious process that might prove to be dangerous compared to detoxing in consultation with a doctor. Alcohol or opiate addicts must go through a medical detox as it is the first step for the treatment.

A detox done under supervision can relieve health issues. The supervisors can carefully supervise the addict’s heart rate, blood pressure, and other parameters to understand what they are going through. They can accordingly adjust the medication as well.

If you see your close ones (friends or family) struggling with addiction, do not let them suffer alone. The least we can do is stay there for them and talk to a professional like doctors for help. There are various kinds of treatment available for addicts other than just opting for medication. Though medication provides speedy recovery, it might prove fatal. Be aware of all types of treatments and opt for the ones which suit their needs.

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